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The "Other War": Images of the second world war in service comedies

Spicer, Andrew H.


Andrew Spicer
Professor in Cultural Production


Susan Bennett

Stephen Caunce

Eva Mazierska

Susan Sydeny-Smith

John Walton


This chapter argues, following Angus Calder, that there was an official line of commemoration of the Second World War: a mythic construction that celebrated heroism, courage, resourcefulness, loyalty and patriotism. It valorised the virtues of the responsible middle class and of officers. Drawing on a range of cultural sources, The chapter concentrates on a counter-hegemonic construction: the 'other war' - a war of skivers, shirkers and petty criminals out for individual gain who displayed the reverse qualities to those lauded in the official myth. The mode for this alternative construction was comedy, which could present this disturbing and unsettling construction under the guise of 'harmless fun'. The chapter focuses on a group of service comedies made from 1945-65 that celebrated the wit, respurcefulness and bloodymindedness of the working-class ordinary serviceman and woman which were highly popular and so spoke to a deep-seated irreverence in Britsh culture.


Spicer, A. H. (2004). The "Other War": Images of the second world war in service comedies. In S. Bennett, S. Caunce, E. Mazierska, S. Sydeny-Smith, & J. Walton (Eds.), Relocating Britishness (167-182). Manchester: Manchester University Press

Publication Date Nov 1, 2004
Publicly Available Date Jun 9, 2019
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 167-182
Series Title Studies in Popular Culture
Book Title Relocating Britishness
ISBN 9780719070266
Keywords British culture, second world war, service comedy, mocking humour, commemoration, official myths
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : 'This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:


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